Jan 23, 2007 08:50 AM EST
GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C.- A small exotic animal farm is part of a backyard on E. Old Mill Road in Travelers Rest. We’re told there are lions, tigers and monkeys in cages housed in some sheds, and some birds too.
It is where some young people go to feed animals, but now the owner, Walter Gresham, is accused of molesting a 15 year-old boy. “I’m totally shocked and I have no reason to be questioning anything about him,” said David Meeks, Gresham’s friend.
David Meeks first met Gresham more than 15 years ago. He’s also the Executive Director of Hollywild Animal Park where they once worked together. “Never ever would’ve given me any indication that he was nothing more than a good person,” said Meeks.
During Christmas, Gresham helped organize the Enchanted Deer Forest. He worked there with other employees of all ages. “As far as his work, I had no problems whatsoever with the work he did,” said Meeks.
However, a 15 year-old boy says one night at Gresham’s house back in 2005, Gresham forced him to watch porn and performed oral sex on him. The boy’s family spent a lot of time at the Gresham house during pool parties and other events.
Last year, the boy told his mother he didn’t want to go on camping trip with Gresham because he said he made him feel weird. “I never ever suspected or never saw anything that would’ve bothered me in anyway,” said Meeks.
The 15 year-old’s mother says her son blames himself. In an incident report she states, her son said his grandfather was sick because the victim was being punished because of what happened to him.
Cops arrested Gresham and now he faces serious charges, but his long-time friend says everyone is innocent until proven guilty. “I’m hoping for the best for everybody,” said Meeks.
We also checked with code enforcement about those exotic animals. A Greenville County ordinance states it is legal for someone to own certain exotic animals if they have a proper permit or licenses and if those animals are housed properly.
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